59 ‘forcibly disappeared’ in last 11 months

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Different human rights organisations on Saturday said 59 persons had been `forcibly disappeared’ allegedly by the `law-enforcement agencies’ from January to November, in Bangladesh this year. The government ‘has obligations’ to answer to the citizens and to the international community on the alleged cases of disappearances, they said.

A joint statement by Asian Human Rights Commission and Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances also said the families of victims appealed to the government and judicial authorities to locate their dear ones repeatedly, but they did not get any information on the whereabouts of the disappeared persons. The organisations called for the return of all disappeared persons and the government of Bangladesh to explain the enforced disappearances. They cited that eight activists of opposition political party had been missing for two years. The victims include the general secretary of the Tejgaon Thana unit of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Sajedul Islam Sumon, Zahidul Karim Tanveer, Majharul Islam, Abdul Kader Bhuiyan, Asaduzzaman, Al-Amin, Md. Kausar and Adnan Chowdhury. The members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) picked up the eight people on the night of December 4, 2013 from Bashundhara area under Bhatara police station of Dhaka city. Since then their whereabouts are unknown, said the statement.

Disappeared families received official denials, neglect, and further intimidation. Several press conferences, protest rallies and human chains demanding the return of the disappeared victims have been dealt with by repeated threats to the relatives and subsequent surveillance by `state agents’.

The Hong Kong and Philippines based human rights organisations also cited that the same pattern of disappearances were being systematically used by the State as a tool to silence and weaken the political opponents. Failure to hold the accused agencies and the executive authorities will only increase public distrust on the justice institutions, they said.

The situation in Bangladesh has become extremely repressive, they said, as the government ‘does not allow opposition parties and dissenting voices to speak out against its undemocratic and anti-human rights actions’. The rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are being curtailed by applying draconian laws, the rights groups observed.

Link: New Age